By Richard Menta 3/21/05
As I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame broadcast on VH1 this weekend I thoroughly enjoyed Bruce Springsteen's intro to this year's inductees U2. You can see the spark in his eyes as he went into story mode, just like he does in concert when he sets up the next song. Hunched over that damn low-positioned microphone like one of Shakespear's kings, he stared out a little slow and awkward at first, but as he warmed burst into a funny and touching eloquence that became U2's second award for the evening.
I particularly loved the ribbing he gave U2 on their iPod connection.
"Well" began Bruce, still hunched but with a devious smile, "There I was sitting down on the couch in my pajamas with my eldest son. He was watching TV. I was doing one of my favorite things: I was tallying up all the money I passed up in endorsements over the years and thinking of all the fun I could have had with it. Suddenly I hear "Uno, dos, tres, catorce!"
I look up. But instead of the silhouettes of the hippie-wannabes bouncing around in the iPod commercial, I see my boys! Oh my God! They sold out!
Now, what I know about the iPod is this: it is a device that plays music. Of course, their new song sounded great, my guys are doing great, but methinks I hear the footsteps of my old tape operator, of Jimmy Iovine somewhere. Wily, smart.
Now, personally, I live an insanely expensive lifestyle that my wife barely tolerates. I burn money, and that calls for huge amounts of cash flow. But, I also have a ludicrous image of myself that keeps me from truly cashing in. You can see my problem. Woe is me.
So the next morning, I call up Jon Landau or as I refer to him, "the American Paul McGuinness", and I say, "Did you see that iPod thing?" and he says, "Yes." And he says, "And I hear they didn't take any money." And I said, "They didn't take any money?" and he says, "No." I said, "Smart, wily Irish guys. Anybody anybody can do an ad and take the money. But to do the ad and not take the money... that's smart. That's wily." I say, "Jon, I want you to call up Bill Gates or whoever is behind this thing and float this: a red, white and blue iPod signed by Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen. Now remember, no matter how much money he offers, don't take it!"
The Boss iPod huh. As a New Jersey native all I can say is I'll take one in all of its Red, White, and Blue glory. I guess that makes me a sucker for target marketing, even if the product is just a creation of Springsteen's sense of humor. But I grew up in Englishtown, NJ, the town right next to Springsteen's Freehold, and that means I grew up on his music too.
The photo of me above was shot at an abandoned kiddie ride in front of the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, a venue that Bruce played in for many years and where he occasionally still makes an unannounced after-midnight appearance. The picture was used for a magazine article a few year's back and I really need to update it. I hesitate because it represents my connection to the Jersey shore music scene I grew up with.
So yes, I will take one of those Springsteen iPods. So what if I already have a dozen MP3 players in my closet? The fictional player is more fun than the real thing.
And fill it with the music from his Tracks box set. This way it will have the first Springsteen song I ever heard on the radio, the Fever, playing on a warm summer night from WMMR in Philadelphia.
The Samsung Yepp YH-999 20 GB Portable Media Center is available on Amazon
Other MP3 stories:
MP3 Frees the Music of Fiona Apple
Can Free Broadcast TV Really Be Napsterized?
iPod and Other MP3 Players Go Mainstream